The concept of androgyny has appeared in every culture. Joseph Campbell tells us that the mythologies of both the Orient and Occident share an image of the first being, “who was originally one but became two.” With the cementing of patriarchy and the onset of Christianity, this concept became buried deep in the unconscious. As Jungian analyst June Singer has noted, “The Androgyne has been nearly totally expunged from the Judeo-Christian tradition, for it apparently threatens the idea of a patriarchal God-image.”
But with the increase in psychological awareness in today’s world, this is changing. Today we realize with Singer that, “Androgyny is an archetype inherent in the human psyche….[which] refers to a specific way of joining the “masculine” and “feminine” aspects of a single human being.” One has only to observe the rapid dissolution of gender role stereotypes and the sexual double standard, compare the clothing and hair styles of young people with those of our parents’ generation, or observe how gender-blind young people are in their choice of friends to see that this archetype is making a dramatic reappearance in Western society.
Angels are a particularly intriguing manifestation of the Androgyne archetype. We see them everywhere: on television, in books and movies, on clothing, and in personal narratives. According to most accounts angels are genderless messengers who come to point us in healing new directions. They exemplify the very best aspects of psychological and spiritual androgyny.
A projection of the Androgyne which has captured the imagination of the entire planet is space aliens. Whereas those who come to conquer and destroy represent our worst fears, the positive ones — E.T. and the kindly light-filled beings in films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Cocoon — fill us with awe and hope. Whether space aliens derive from the universe without or the universe within, there can be little doubt that they signal the onset of a massive evolutionary transformation in human consciousness.
Psycho-spiritual androgyny is not about sexuality or gender, but about valuing our inner world. It emerges as we unite the disowned aspects of our masculine drive for self-preservation (developing our individuality) and feminine drive for species-preservation (developing loving relationships). If there were such a thing as pure masculinity and pure femininity, and if we could draw a line between these complementary opposites, every soul would occupy its own unique position on the continuum. Since each soul is unique, all would manifest their creativity differently. Moreover, a person with a fully activated Androgyne would radiate enormous power because consciously integrated masculinity and femininity, both at the top of their energy, is the ultimate power of which humanity is capable.
Leaving stereotypes behind frees us to become what we were created to be and relate openly and honestly to others. Thus, the Androgyne represents our potential to experience heaven on Earth: peace and loving oneness with ourselves, others, and the Mystery of Life.
Can you think of other examples of how the Androgyne is manifesting in today’s world?
Ego and God-Image: Part VI
[T]he most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood
Good Morning, Jeannie,
I’ve quite enjoyed reading and learning from your last number of posts. After your October 25 “Symbols of Transition and Transformation” I had a wedding dream! My other dreams with wedding references were in 1987, a couple months after I began recording my dreams, and in 2001, around the time I began the study of enneagram. So thank you for this one!
However, while I found your post on androgyny informative and intriguing, I’m coming up empty on this one–except aren’t children before puberty rather androgynous? bett
How neat that you recently had a wedding dream around the same time that you read about them here! I’m glad to know my posts are activating some of your unconscious energies.
Thank you so much for your question, and for letting me know you couldn’t think of more examples of how the Androgyne is emerging. As I began to write my response it got so long that I realized a better place for it would be in my next post. So stay tuned!
How lucky we all are to live as we do at the Dawn of the Digital Age! This concept of The Androgyne Archetype can today be seen to go well beyond the mere dichotomy of female and male. What the digital age has allowed us is the ability to see that we are all not so different after all.
If I consider a few of my own possible categories, I see that I am essentially the same as every human being on the planet: living being, human being, man, husband, father and grandfather, American, Christian/Buddhist/Agnostic, etc.
As a living being I know I exist, and in that sense I am a bit luckier, because most of the life forms we know simply are, but as a Buddhist I respect all living creatures while accepting the fact that some of them must die so that I may continue. All life lives on other life. Still, I can contemplate the fact that in order for me to live out my three score and ten, I must leave behind a carnage of flocks of chickens, herds of cattle, lambs, and hogs, and remnants of screaming tomatoes.
As a human being I am thrilled with my life as one of the luckiest creatures that ever lived. I can know that I exist and understand my place in this place we call the universe. In the context of that space, our differences are truly trivial, and evaporating by the second in the Digital Age.
We live at a time when we can see back to 500,000 years after the Big Bang, when the first stars in the universe switched on, and down to the smallest particles. We can know that we are alone, both safe from aliens who could be no closer than 24 trillion miles from us but also quarantined from them. I can know that we as a species are truly alone. Science tells us that the fastest object ever created by man is the Voyager spacecraft, which was launched in 1976. It travels at 11 miles per second through deep space, but even at that speed it would take 350,000 years to reach our nearest stellar neighbor. We can know that we can conjure the speed of light, but we will never be photons, which can actually travel at that speed.
As a man, I am not so different from any other human being on the planet. Yes, I have a different gender from women, but that difference only has relevance at the time of procreation and in the privacy of our bedrooms. The marginal differences in hormones we all possess do not create such big differences, unless we conjure them ourselves, and those differences are being minimized by the Digital Age.
As a husband, father and grandfather, my roles are not so very different from any other spouse, parent or grandparent throughout the world.
I had the luck to be born an American, which meant I live in a society that mostly allowed human beings to live up to their potential. But, it is not the only model for success. We see many races and religions living together successfully in many other societies, including Singapore, Malaysia, and India to name just a few notable examples. The Digital Age has opened up this type of amalgam even further. The Arab Spring is partially about young Arabs wanting to find an equilibrium; we could call it an Androgyne society. Few of them would want to leave their native land or change their religion, but they now see clearly that others have a better quality of life, and they want to push their societies toward that goal.
In 2002, a Saudi friend said to me, “You know, Skip. In 20 years Saudi Arabia will be like the States.” As I looked around me that evening, and had within view several McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Starbucks, and thousands of Chevys and Fords, I almost thought that it was like that then, but surely that view told me that he was, in a sense, right. Of course, the powers that be will resist the change, but one force they cannot slow down is the Androgyne Archetype, as you describe it.
As a spiritual person, I do not claim any strong persuasion, but my general observation is that the religions of the world, and some philosophies like Buddhism and Taoism, are really not so very different. When Muslim crazies wanted to execute someone for converting to Christianity, as is ordered in the Qu’ran, I found a mirroring passage in Deuteronomy, which many Christians think is the infallible word of God. Powerful people in control of religions have often used them to hype up their political base, and accuse followers of a different faith of being “the Other,” but the Digital Age is in the process of proving them liars too.
I could go on at great length on this topic of the Androgyne Archetype, but my point is that what we see across the world as societal upheaval is really the multifaceted distinctions we have built up over millions of years finding their level and their commonality. What primitive humans saw as the primary differences, between genders, will ultimately be subsumed by the recognition that we are all human beings on a very tiny planet, isolated by the vastness of space, and facing extinction in 4 billion years when the sun burns out. In that sense, I am cheered by the knowledge that we will have no choice but to give the Androgyne Archetype its due.
This is an excellent survey of the global awakening of the Androgyne archetype. Thank you very much for putting so much thought and effort into it. It is such an important and enriching addition to this discussion that I’d love to publish it in an upcoming post. May I have your permission to do that? I’m afraid too many people won’t see it in this comment section.
With sincere thanks,
Of course, you may! Thank you for the honor!
Thank you. It’s my pleasure. You’re an excellent, very articulate writer!